"But Jones," you say, "how do I reduce my stack of projects by not editing?"
Allow me to clarify. I want you to stop editing. Instead, I want you to train others to do the editing while you structure and sharpen all other aspects of your business. I want you to develop an editing vanguard that protects the front lines against the enemies of business freedom. I want you to be able to trust that editing transpires even when you aren't in front of the station.
Sounds good, doesn't it? Or does it sound somewhat unsettling? There are four reasons why creatives tend to recoil when I make this suggestion.
The first reason is intrinsic. We started this business so that we could express ourselves creatively, and the editing process is our creative outlet. In giving up editing, we fear that we're relinquishing the stimulating part of self-employment and that we're relegating ourselves to the mundane tasks of operating a business. I understand the feeling; however, I'm sobered by the reality that editing all by one's self will always, ultimately, result in a soul-crushing backlog.
In order to retain the invigoration that comes from creative expression, you shouldn't give up editing cold turkey. Your long-term goal, though, must be to reduce your time in the editing bay to 25% or less of your workday. It may sound daunting to release this much control over your product, but you're likely to find that you will take more pleasure in editing when you aren't 100% responsible for it.
Secondly, if our project queue is under control and if we are making our clients happy by delivering in a reasonable amount of time, then why not leave well enough alone? Why should we try to fix something that ain't broke?
While our system may not be broken yet, there are fissures beginning to form in the foundation. For example, if you are the only editor, what happens when you have a family emergency? What happens when your computer breaks down? What happens when you fall ill? I'll tell you what happens: You won't get any editing done. You'll begin to deliver later than guaranteed, and your clients won't be as excited about their feature films. As backlog grows, referrals wane. The only way to ensure long-term consistency in delivery is to delegate the editing so that it doesn't rest solely on you.
Thirdly, we may believe that no one can edit quite like we do. We may be right; however, there are plenty of folks who can edit almost as well as we do.
As much as our signature style may ooze with unique artistry, it is a reproducible science 98% of the time. We can break down most of our storytelling into step-by-step instructions and teach it to others. That does not diminish what we create, nor does it deny our talent. Instead, we should think of our brilliance as a collective consciousness, a unifying force not of our creation useful for cohering a collective of craftspeople. It is not ours to own-it's a gift to be shared, and in sharing this gift, we're freeing ourselves to explore our abilities even more deeply.
Finally, we fear training others because there is the risk that we are developing our future competition. For some of you, this has been a stark reality. If, then, the thought of training an editor produces paralyzing anxiety and prevents you from moving forward, ask yourself the following questions: When you train these editors, do you also teach them how to run a business? Do they have connections to the vendors with whom you've built and nurtured relationships over the past decade? Do they have a referral base as strong as yours from satisfying past clients?
Realistically, the only skill they have is editing video, and you know that there is so much more to running a business than crafting clips together in an NLE. If you're taking care of your business and serving your clients, then you're going to remain light-years ahead of any defecting counterparts.
If you are not yet convinced that you need to build an editing team, then consider the alternative: You will be sitting on your rump performing 100% of every edit on every project from now until the end of your business life. Was this what you had in mind when you started your studio?
Are you going to give power to your fears and insecurities, submitting to their destructive demands, or are you going to stare down that which intimidates you to get what you want out of life? Are you willing to settle for the status quo, or are you ready to conquer your deficiencies? If you are truly eager to boot backlog out the door once and for all, then demonstrate it in this manner. Train an editor ... and stop editing now!
Chris P. Jones (jones at masonjarfilms.com), an Austin, Texas-based EventDV 25 All-Star, has been shooting weddings for nearly a decade and is a co-founder of the wedding filmmaking educational gathering IN[FOCUS].